A fat woman’s dignity

She moves through the café
brushing chairs aside like flies.
From underneath her widebrimmed hat
a surprise; behind huge dark glasses, the straightest clearest eyes.
A chair creaks under her.
Her weight is a disguise,
her girth conceals her humour,
surefooted she, a dancer hides within those folds of flesh, a pas de deux of grace and size.
A man passes in a blur, a man falls to the floor.
Smiling at her victims, oblivious to lies,
she forces truth out of them to their delight.
They laugh, they love, they sing, they dance — with her time flies.
Strange dignity in her smile. Sons
have fed at her breasts, her milk satisfies.
In her body
a woman’s heart; strange dignity in her eyes.

A fat woman’s dignity has been previously published in the Poetry Circle’s journal Poiesis (Winter 1993 / Summer 1994) and in Reasons For Belonging: Fourteen Contemporary Indian Poets, Viking Penguin India (ed. Ranjit Hoskote). © Gavin Barrett